What can paleoecology offer Latin American archaeology?

By Audrey Cross

Archaeologists… they need help. They excavate sites, hopefully taking really good notes, ask for help from specialists, read, synthesize information, imagine past cultures and landscapes, theorize, question, and hopefully publish their findings. I don’t want to be an archaeologist, but since both of my parents were, it’s a part of me. Maybe without being an archaeologist myself, I can help them, though, because their work is best done with help from different types of specialists.

In the summer of 2012, I did a field school that my mother was running in the Rio Bravo Conservation Area in northwest Belize. My late mother had done work and run field schools there for as long as I’ve been alive, and I was finally getting a sense of what her work meant. Amongst the many facets of this field school that sparked my interest, the study of the nearby bajos got my mind thinking in terms of paleoecology.

Fig. 1. Members of the 2012 Maax Na field crew at Bolsa Verde, excavating a Mayan plaza. Perhaps 30m from the edge of this picture, there is a steep slope downwards towards to the bajo. (Photo by Audrey Cross)

Fig. 1. Members of the 2012 Maax Na field crew at Bolsa Verde, excavating a Mayan plaza. Perhaps 30m from the edge of this picture, there is a steep slope downwards towards to the bajo. (Photo by Audrey Cross)

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